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A Mellow Winter

2-17-18, Valley Falls, OR

Winters are a slow time here in Central Oregon.  With the exception of a few smaller trips and some minor chores, the weather keeps us fairly housebound.  Since November, the only traveling we’ve done is: a couple of trips to Reno, Nevada, a trip to the coast for some crab fishing and monthly trips to either Bend or Klamath Falls, OR for some more extensive shopping.

Three months ago, my friend Geren gave me a little leppy (orphan) calf that was 8 months old but had spent the spring and summer surviving by robbing a drink here and there off other cows’ udders. While this was enough to keep her alive, it wasn’t enough nutrition to allow her to grow.  When I got her at eight months old, instead of being 400 to 500 lbs like most other calves of her age, she barely tipped the scales at 100 pounds. 3 months later, she’s had enough feed to bring her up to about 300 pounds.

Eight month old leppy calf.  An insufficient diet causes her body to look small in relation to the size of her head.

After 3 months of good feed in a noncompetitive environment, she’s tripled her weigh and lost the orphan calf look.

Last week, we joined our friends at the coastal town of Charleston, OR for a weekend of crab fishing (and feasting). The ocean was a little rough for a small boat (4 to 6 feet waves) so we opted to place our traps in the large channel that runs between Coos Bay and the ocean. The crab were plentiful and we averaged two keeper Dungenous crabs per pot after a soak time of one to two hours.  While we never made our legal catch limit of 12 crab per day for each person, we all managed to go home with full coolers of cooked crab. If you happened to be in Charleston that weekend, you would have recognized us as the hillbillies huddled around a gas burner in the motel parking lot, cooking crab and drinking beer.

I prefer the taste of Dungenous crab over all others as it has a sweeter taste.  In addition to the meat in the legs and claws, there’s a large amount of body meat. In the store, these crab go for $20 to $25 dollars apiece. It’s nice to go home with a couple of dozen in the cooler, free of charge.

In contrast to last year, it has been a fairly warm and dry winter.  In January we had no problem getting up to our fishing hole in the mountains. A year earlier we would have had a hard time getting to the pond on a snow machine as there was four or five feet of snow on the ground. 

For most of the winter, the jet stream has blown north of us, resulting in higher than normal temperatures and little snowfall.  Last year, the lee side of Cox Mountain (shown above) had a fifteen to twenty feet drift of snow. This year, there’s no more than 3 or 4 feet piled up.

At the end of January, I loaded my mare into the horse trailer and went a couple of hours to the north for a cattle drive. We had 600 head to gather up on the Wildlife Refuge and drive them four or five miles back to home ranch. This is what I refer to as a ‘Kansas cattle drive’ (no trees and no hills). The only problem was caused nine month previously when the cows were turned out early on the desert.  A neighbor’s Hereford bull had wintered out on the range and had his way with Geren’s cows, a month earlier than normal.  This end result of this was a 1 1/2 dozen cute little white faced calves, too young to make the drive back to the ranch. After we bunched the cows on the refuge and they paired up with the calves, we cut the young ones and their mothers out and took the rest of the herd.  When the calves get to be a couple of weeks old they’ll make the journey.

It’s quite a site to see 600 cows strung out before you. I can’t imagine how it looked to drive 5000 head up the Chisolm trail in the old days.

When a calf is only a day or two old, they don’t drive worth a dang. This little day old heifer lost track of her mother and chummed up with my mare until we caught up with the herd on the refuge. Occasionally she would reach up with nose and butt my foot looking for a drink. Two other calves were brought in across the saddle to the gather point.

In the next few weeks, I should be headed east for a couple months of work.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a nice relaxing winter.

My youngest grandson - Sebastian, enjoying a walk.

[Home] [Trip 5] [When the Weather Breaks -] [A Few Day Roadtrip] [In Memory] [Cuttting Cows and Training] [Trout and Horse Driving] [Brandin' Calves] [Three Weeks To Go] [Wagon & Trailer Work Done] [Things Are Coming Together] [Shakedown In the Mountains] [Scouting Trip] [Tough Start] [Whoa!] [Cattle Drive - Day One] [Cattle Drive - Day Two] [Sweet Summer Days] [Warm, Horsey Days] [An American Serengeti] [In Nebraska, Once Again] [Back Home, At Last] [Happy 2015] [What's New With the Teamster?] [A Long Time Between Posts] [Nice Times] [Twelve Wonderful Days In Glacier Bay] [Catching Up] [Long Winter] [Joyous Early Summer] [Boundary Waters Canoe Trip] [Late Summer and Fall] [A Mellow Winter]